Systems of Light

by Kevin Carrel Footer
8 November 2015

Ruidoso, NM – Like planetary systems we float through the universe. Pre-Galilean, there is a dull planet and a plethora of shimmering stars. The stars are ours, if we choose them. Or we can be the dull inert thing that wobbles uncertainly towards its end.

Out on the road, darkness and light are tangible entities. In the darkness I cannot see, even to pull the van over and stop for the night. The night is not the absence of light, it is the void glowering outside the beams of my headlights. In it lives the coyote, the ditch, the fallen tree or the car someone abandoned by the side of the road when their quest collided with some hard mechanical reality.

I pulled off the desert road and turned off my headlamps. I was exhausted and needed to rest. It was not safe to go on in this state. I collapsed over the steering wheel, embracing it as if it were a soft woman. When at last I woke, I stepped out of the van and was jolted back to life by the lacework of stars that I had not known to be there. With my feeble headlamps giving me a view of just a 30-foot wedge of the world, I had forgotten that the stars were there. Stepping into the night, they were waiting for me. Far from the false gods and neon pleadings of interstate oases, I could see them again.

Sometimes the night seems impenetrable and impossible to cross. I like to remind myself that it is the darkness that allows us to see the light.

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